Today, trends in technological advancement and information dissemination have taken a paradigm shift from the traditional system. As a result, social media now makes an essential part of people’s lives, penetrating the information society and serves as a catalyst for political development and good governance.
Apart from improving people’s social, economic and political well being, social media is also the medium through which billions of users around the world interact and connect. The greatest number of users of social media are the youths. Due to their technological savvy, the youths constitute the largest population that make use of social media and as a result use that as an opportunity to participate actively and influence fully governmental decisions and issues of public importance on social media sites.
Moreover, the advent of social media is impacting governance in Nigeria positively by redefining government closeness with people and transparency through mobilizing citizens’ active participation in the political process, thereby encouraging participatory democracy. One of the creative use of social according to Lambe (2016) was during the 2015 general election, where the youths through social media posts unofficially observed and reported incidents at the election, and resulted into free and fair election to get conducted by the electoral officials under strict monitory of these social media titans(youths).
In order to redefine governance in Nigeria, the role of social media cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, how can young Nigerians make use of social media to redefine governance in the country?
To begin with, the world is now a global village where within the blink of an eye information and communication comes at fingertips. Governance can be redefined through social media by Nigerian youths with the use of electronic democracy (E-democracy), wherein, all adult Nigerians would be qualified and free to participate in governance, political processes and development on social and economic conditions of equal political determination. This is possible because as identified by Nwachukwu (2017), out of over 170 million Nigerian population, 86,219,965 are internet users with active penetration of 46.1% and out of 3.4% global internet users, tagged at 2.5%. The most visited sites apart from Google and Jumia are social media sites- Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and WhatsApp.
Since social media suits people's way of life, especially youths facilitating their political participation. Nigerian youths can use it to engage the older generations in facilitating discourse of socio- political and economic issues as determinants for accessing a candidate’s capabilities to hold public office.
Also, youths can redefine governance in Nigeria through social media by pushing for political change. As an important tool of Civic engagement, push for political change on social media would fasten transportation in democracy and governance to suit trends in the 21st century. By organizing online protests, sharing information and forming communities that engage governments, then there would be a quick response to the cries of the people. This creativity has been applied by Nigerian youths in previous years and was effective. In 2014, the hashtag #BringBackOurGirls that condemned government insensitivity to the abduction of above 2000 Chibok school girls by Boko Haram terrorists attracted global attention and hastened the Nigerian government response (Lambe, 2016). Also was the #Endsars protest late 2020 attracted the attention of international organizations and governments to the brutality of police officers. These acts made possible the bringing of Nigerians' decision and general public interest more significant to governance.
Another way social media can redefine governance is by creating a plethora of innovative governance that provide opportunities involving the masses by political leaders even before venturing into campaigns. Political leaders can therefore appeal and communicate with the social media users (mostly youths) to express their humor and thus would make them personable and in constant contact with their supporters.
In line with this, social media can be used as a venue to campaign, seek votes during elections and maintain transparency with citizens. A test for this approach was applied in the 2011 general election, as it aided a violence free political campaign and strengthened political participation (Funmilola and Matthew, 2020).
Apart from promoting people’s involvement in governance, youths can also galvanize mobilization of people and group's interest within the political setting. People, especially youths, would be more empowered and when they operate in groups they would have more bargaining power than acting individually. Social media could serve as a veritable platform for these groups to exist and tailor their activities towards the hearing of the government. Social media supports the network of these groups and acts as a pressure on the government, so as to increase their efforts to appease these groups and the general public.
In conclusion, trends in the 21st century have made the use of social media and access to it increase more than the local system of communication. Apart from creating a social network for people from different parts of the world to communicate and interact, it could be properly implemented to aid and improve governance in Nigeria and meet up with advancement in democracy in this century. Considering the youths being the major drivers of social media, the roles stated in this paper could be utilized.
F. Olufunmi & M. Folorunsho, “Use of Social Media for Political Participation by Youths” available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342830197_Use_of_Social_Media_for_Political_Participation_by_Youths accessed 25 March 2021.
E. Nwachukwu, “Social Media, Nigerian Youths and Political Participation: A Thematic and Methodological Review” available at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323230694_Social_Media_Nigerian_Youths_and_Political_Participation_A_Thematic_and_Methodological_Review accessed 26 March 2021.
L. Kayode, “Social Media Use, Social Capital, and Political Participation among Nigerian University Students 2016 Barcelona 127-143.
Abdul Pelumi Ganiyu is a student of law at University of Ilorin. He's a writer, who likes sharing his opinions on issues of significance. He can be contacted via email; firstname.lastname@example.org
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